Life In Circles… Motives

By Kenneth Stepp

I am away from home today and have been texting with a friend about deep life subjects. One subject was why we do hard things. Have you ever done something so hard you dreaded it? My life has been full of them. From training to doing deeds the natural me just doesn’t want to do. I think most of us experience this. Some more than others.

I believe what motivates us comes from areas inside us that have a small voice until activated. An example of this would be as a parent we naturally protect our children. My middle son and I were hit head on once. I was driving. When in my head (too fast to apply thought), I did what was natural. My arm went in front of him and I turned the wheel so that I would take the worst of it. This was a case of natural motivation. 

There are other, more selfish motivations though. The motivation to earn or win something would be a great example. If I want something that costs $1000.00 I will work hard to earn that money. If I meet someone that causes my heart to beat faster, I will do what I can to earn her heart. I want her to want me. That’s almost primal but has a self centered core to do it.

Fear is a great motivator. The average human runs less than 8 miles per hour. I’ve been told an alligator can run 25 miles per hour in a short burst. If an alligator is chasing me I firmly believe I can run just over 25 miles per hour in the same short burst an alligator can. And if by chance he catches me, I like my odds in that fight. Losing would not be an option. The quote, “I can run faster scared than you can angry” comes to mind. Motivation matters.

As I age I see the changes in me. I am slower and less able to do the things I did in my twenties and thirties. I was a remarkable human back then. I trained for hours every day. I kept up a pace that others would just stare at. I could run seemingly forever, was stronger than anyone I knew and did hard things with ease. Looking back, I never thought those days would end. But I changed.

Change is inevitable. None of us escape change. But do motives change? If I was motivated to climb that hill then, I am motivated to climb it now. Back then I might have ran up that hill at full speed. Today, I would do a steady walk. I might even take breaks. But not climbing that hill is still not an option. That hill will lose one way or the other. My quote, “I don’t know how I’m going to win, I just know I can’t lose” comes to mind. I said that before every fight I had.

I was, at one time, a professional fighter. The training back then made that possible. A few years back I needed money and the only thing I could think of was fighting again. I decided to train again, prepare for what I wasn’t sure of and hope for the best. I remember that night when I entered the ring again. My opponent was far less than half my age and I only got paid if I won.

By the time the bell rang, in my mind, he was simply that hill I had to climb. I walked steady and took breaks. But I enjoyed the view from the top. You see, my motivation changed from being motivated to earn to being motivated by fear. What motivates us will always be the difference. I repeated that night another two times till my doctor said I would die if I didn’t stop. Yet another motive.

If I could give someone a small piece of wisdom, it would be this. Do hard things… If the motives are right, pure, or necessary, that hill is going to lose every time. When you love someone the hill is in a fight it can’t win. The most powerful force in the entire universe is love. And the most powerful motivator is love. 

Love has been lost in the singles community these days. Or at least it’s taken a back seat to self centered desires. Men are natural providers and protectors. Their partner and children are naturally what they protect and provide for. These have in many cases been replaced with things. Motorcycles, RVs, indulgences, etc. Lousy motives but prevalent these days.

Your priorities create your motives. Remember what is truly important in your life. In the end, things are hollow and will never replace what’s really valuable. Sadly, we learn this after the fact more often than not. Fear is the greatest motivator of all. Fear of losing the most important thing.